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Mark Fry’s got the easiest job of selling the club ... I f he’s having trouble, what hope did the rest of us have?
3:35pm Thursday 7th May 2009 in Sport
MICHAEL Wilde has branded as “nonsense” the claims that Saints would have been bought ages ago but for the major shareholders.
The fact the club’s parent company Southampton Leisure Holdings was a PLC is believed to have put previous investors off bidding.
The Echo has also been told that the three major shareholders and their personalities – Wilde, Rupert Lowe and Leon Crouch – were the reasons the club has remained up for sale for the last few years.
“PLCs are bought and sold all the time,” one source admitted.
Tough But Wilde points to administrator Mark Fry’s experience as proof of how tough it has been to sell the club in the recent financial climate.
The former football board chairman has even asked “what chance did we have?” of finding a buyer when Fry’s month of negotiations has so far failed to result in even one concrete bid.
Wilde, blamed by the boards he pieced together for failing to bring in new investment, told the Echo: “We have all been trying to get money into the club for so long.
“I’ve lost count of the number of people I’ve spoken to to try and get money in.
“Mark Fry had 32 expressions of interest and so quickly that went down to three or four still interested.
“Who’s got the easiest job of selling the club? Mark Fry, and still he’s having trouble selling it.
“It makes you realise that all the people that have been at the club in the last three or four years, what chance have we have had?”
Wilde told the Echo yesterday that the club’s demise into administration is a direct result of relegation from the cash cow which is the Premiership.
“It isn’t about individuals, it’s about loss of revenue and how to deal with that,” he said.
Struggling He added: “Without a penny for the shareholding it has proven so difficult to get a buyer for the club.
“So how difficult was it with the shareholding?
“It being a listed company added to it all.
“You can’t get cheaper than buying it out of administration and still he (Fry) is struggling to get a buyer.
“That proves what the previous boards have all been up against.
“You can’t just say it’s for sale and expect a sale.
“Rupert’s had a lot of meetings, I’ve had a lot of meetings and I’m sure Leon has with potential investors.
“But they are only potential.”
The thought that you could just find somebody to buy the club if it wasn’t for the shareholders is nonsense.
“Even though we all have differences of opinion, when people have been interested we’ve all spoken to them.”